Seminars at the Faculty of Informatics

Cryptography in a Quantum World

The Faculty of Informatics is pleased to announce a seminar given by Gilles Brassard

DATE: Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
PLACE: USI Lugano Campus, room A-23, Red Building (Via G. Buffi 13)
TIME: 15.30

Cryptography, although practiced as an art and science for thousands of years, had to wait until the end of the 1940s before Claude Shannon gave it a strong mathematical foundation. However, Shannon's approach was rooted is his own information theory, itself inspired by the classical physics of Newton. But our world is ruled by the laws of quantum mechanics. When quantum-mechanical phenomena are considered, new vistas open up both for cryptographers (code makers) and cryptanalysts (code breakers). Some theorems (including by Shannon) remain mathematically correct, but become irrelevant in our quantum world. Most strikingly, it is possible for two people who do not share ahead of time a long secret key to communicate in perfect secrecy under the nose of an eavesdropper with unlimited computing power and whose technology is limited only by the known laws of physics. Conversely, quantum mechanics provides powerful tools to threaten the mechanisms that are currently used on the Internet to protect electronic transactions. Furthermore, it seems---but is not yet proven---that quantum mechanics provides more benefits to cryptanalysts than cryptographers if the latter are restricted to using only classical communication channels. So, in the end, is quantum mechanics a blessing or a curse to the protection of privacy? The jury is still out. No prior knowledge in quantum mechanics or cryptography will be expected from the audience.

Professor of computer science since 1979 and Canada Research Chair at the Université de Montréal, Gilles Brassard laid the foundations of quantum cryptography at a time when only a handful of people worldwide were interested in quantum information science. He is also among the inventors of quantum teleportation, which is universally recognized as a fundamental keystone of the discipline. Editor-in-Chief for Journal of Cryptology from 1991 until 1997, he is the author of three books that have been translated into eight languages. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and the International Association for Cryptologic Research. Among his many awards, we note the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship, the Killam Research Fellowship, the Prix Marie-Victorin, the Rank Prize in Opto-Electronics, the NSERC Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, the Killam Prize for natural sciences and the Prix d'excellence du FRQNT. Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the ETH in Zurich and has been elected foreign member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences and the Academia Europaea. Most recently, he was made an Officer in the Order of Canada.

HOST: Prof. Stefan Wolf